I offer no apologies for my love of side-valve Ford V8s. They were the first serious car I had anything to do with and I delved into the oily mysteries of them with dumb enthusiasm.

It was a mate who bought the first that I had anything to do with. It was a ‘38 De Luxe that, in 1956, had spent much of its life as a taxi and had probably racked up a million miles. When my mate, Water Powell, bought it, the car was anything but a pretty sight.

Actually, I remembered it sitting at the side of a road in Dunedin a year or two earlier. It looked abandoned – four flat tyres, moss on the windows and rust holes in the body. A bloke from the Air Force base at Taieri bought it and ‘did ’er up’, as you did in those days. The left rear mudguard had so much rust in it it looked like paper lace, but he covered the whole guard with aircraft fabric and then brush-painted the car a mid-grey colour.

He had an accident — he drove into a clay bank, giving the car a broken-nose look with the lower half of the grille not matching the top half.

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